New maths for the box office
This year's Pongal release model could prove to be a rewarding strategy for the film industry if it can regulate the releases with not more than four releases per week.
Anbe Sivam has taken over a lot many theatres.
THE GOOD news is finally here for the Tamil film industry. All the four big-budget multi-crore Pongal releases have opened to decent box office collections, thanks to many theatres screening the same films.
Vijay's `Vaseegara' runs at 90 shows per day across about 25 theatres in and around Chennai. Even at a conservative estimate of Rs. 50 per ticket and 400 people per hall, at the end of the first week, the Pongal release would have grossed a minimum of Rs.1. 26 crore in and around the city alone.
`Anbe Sivam' starring Kamal Hasan and Madhavan, runs at 75 shows per day across about 20 of the biggest theatres in and around Chennai. At a conservative estimate of Rs. 50 per ticket and 500 people per hall, at the end of the first week, the Pongal release would have grossed a minimum of Rs. 1.31 crore in the city and suburbs alone.
Vikram's `Dhool' and the Vijaykant starrer `Sokka Thangam' both run at 75 shows per day across about 20 theatres around the city and are expected to gross a minimum of one crore at the end of the first week.
Considering that city collections usually account for only about 20 per cent of the total State box office collections, all the above four films should generate a minimum five crore at the end of the first week. Even before the pirates can make their prints and circulate them across the State. Or let's say, even before the word of mouth and public opinion could spread about the quality of the movie. Even before the reviewers get a chance to come up with their death blows.
And suddenly, the strategy of a few films bombing many halls definitely seems to be cracker of a solution for blockbuster producers and distributors. Thanks to the diversity in the genre of films released while `Anbe Sivam' is serious drama laced with wit and humour, `Dhool' is an explosive entertainer for the masses, `Sokka Thangam' a family-oriented `soft' rustic fare and `Vaseegara' is a youthful urban love story.
Even the other three diverse releases of the season `Ramachandra' where Satyaraj plays an upright cop, `Kalatpadai', a light hearted youth film with an ensemble cast and the spiritual subject `Kaalikambal' the medium budget films have settled for 35-40 shows per day in and around the city.
This year's Pongal release model, therefore, could prove to be a rewarding strategy for the film industry if it can regulate the releases with not more than four releases per week. For which, the industry should be ready to sacrifice its sentiment for a festival release. After all, good films do well, irrespective of festive occasions. Just like how big-budget bad films, no matter what the strategy is, cannot recover the money spent!
AVM's `Gemini' broke conventions and released two days ahead of Tamil New Year's eve last year. It went on to complete more than 125 days. Even recently, A.M. Ratnam's `Dhool' that released the Friday before Pongal, opened to record collections and is said to be the pick of Pongal releases.
Not only does the same-film-in-many-theatres strategy help producers, it also helps the public to choose their theatres. The freedom of choice not only makes theatre owners perk up their infrastructure but also makes them take steps to curb black-tickets. In any case, the fact that many halls screen the same film would stop the black-ticket practice.
Foreign distributors have often practised the strategy for blockbusters.
Jackie Chan starrer `The Tuxedo' plays in about 10 theatres in and around the city. `Spiderman' too broke box office collection records with the same strategy!
The emphasis, no longer can be to make the film run for 100 days the objective should be to recover the investment.
The ailing film industry needs a few hits. What better way than to go all guns blazing same film across multiple halls well before pirates, bitter critics, negative word of mouth and other enemies of cinema could prove to be stumbling blocks!
By Sudhish Kamath
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